- Published on Monday, 12 November 2012 07:21
- Written by The NEWS
……As Brownell Takes Up Issue With Parent Body
Courtesy: Times Of India
Palm oil may be the largest source of vegetable oil; it is also the leading cause behind losing precious primary forests in South East Asia. Palm oil companies are allegedly violating forest rights of tribals, polluting water bodies and grabbing too much of virgin forest land in different parts of Asia and Africa, according to a statement issued by Forest Peoples Program and Sawit Watch, an NGO in Indonesia.
The latest violation case is by Indonesia's largest palm oil company, Sinar Mas, run into trouble recently when communities in Liberia complained about a 33,000 ha. operation being developed on their lands by its indirectly-owned subsidiary, Golden Veroleum in Butaw District, Sinoe County.
Alfred Brownell, a lawyer from Green Advocates representing the Kru tribe in Liberia impacted by the project who was attending the 10th Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RT10) being held in Singapore said: "the company is in clear violation of the RSPO's new planting procedure as it has not advertised its plans to clear and plant oil palms and carry out and publicize a high conservation value assessment in advance of expanding its operations.
Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is a non-profit consortium of stakeholders from the palm oil industry was set up with an aim to develop and implement global standards for producing palm oil sustainably. Golden Veroleum is a member of the RSPO.
Under the RSPO procedure, the company should now cease clearance until due process is followed. The villagers are concerned that their lands are being taken without their free consent.
He recently accepted request from the Kru tribe to represent their legal interest against the massive clearing of their forest allegedly by Golden Veroleum.
Following a tour at the company operational areas in Butaw District, Cllr. Brownell told reporters that the company was in complete violation of processes leading to the sustainable cultivation of oil palm.
He documented the pollution of drinking water sources in Golden Veroleum’s operational areas, the destruction of virgin forest and the illegal clearing and seizure of farmlands.
Cllr. Brownell also spoke of the damning of swamp land by Golden Veroleum in total violation of the permit provided by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of Liberia.
Independent media that visited the area also reported that the oil palm company was also bulldozing ancestral grave sites and villages amidst tension and sorrow.
In furtherance of his campaign against the illegal operation of Golden Veroleum, Cllr. Brownell told the 10th Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil taking place in Singapore that Golden Veroluem is in clear violation of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil New Planting Procedure as it has not advertised its plans to clear and plant oil palms.
Brownell also claimed that Gold Veroluem has not carried out and publicized a high conservation value assessment in advance of expanding its operations.
He observed that under the RSPO procedure, the company should now cease clearance until due process is followed.
Cllr. Brownell noted that villagers in the company operational areas are concerned that their lands are being taken without their fully informed or free consent.
His statement was captured by several international media based in Asia including The Times of India. There are also speculations among participants at the conference that the company operation in Liberia would be halted until Golden Veroleum can engage the locals.
This is the second palm oil development involving a prominent RSPO member to run into controversy in Liberia.
Last year, a subsidiary of Malaysia`s largest palm oil consortium, Sime Darby, was criticized for expanding its operations without respecting local peoples` rights.